Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Value of Retreat

From Pastor Van

The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32
Having just returned from a week with 150 teens at Beach Camp my body is weary but my soul is full.  There seems to be nothing so spiritually refreshing as getting away from the constant noise around us and retreating to a place to focus on our spiritual lives.  I know personally that retreats and camps have played a major role throughout my life and I have seen the impact on students and adults through the years.
Jesus actually taught us the value of retreats in the way He managed His Disciples.  He would instruct them, send them to work what He had taught, and then gather them to a quiet place to debrief them and refill them.  He did this over and over again. 
Interestingly, that was the way He began His own ministry.  Mark’s gospel tells us, Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. Mark 1:12-13  Jesus went on pilgrimage to be baptized and spent forty days in the desert praying in silence, solitude, meditating on Scripture, and fasting.  On this wilderness retreat he solidified his mission for his public ministry and how he would carry out ministry.  He was empowered by the Father and by Scripture to overcame Satan.  After his pilgrimage Jesus was ready to launch his public ministry and to start inviting people to follow him as his apprentices.
Jesus often went out to lonely places to pray.  Later, in Luke 11:1-4 when the disciples saw the priority of Jesus’ private prayer times and the power and glory that came from him as a result of his connection to the Father, they cried out, “Lord, teach us to pray!” 
The ministry of Jesus and His Disciples is built around various retreats into the mountains and to places away from the people.  They went once on a retreat and the people found them but Jesus still used the occasion to show the power of God by feeding thousands of people.  (Mark 6)
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to climb a mountain for a spiritual retreat. They were renewed in the beauty of nature. They talked. They prayed. They rested on the mountaintop. And suddenly right before their eyes Jesus engaged in conversation with Moses and Elijah and he was transfigured so that they saw his glory radiate like the sun! Jesus showed the disciples his divine nature as the Son of God and it changed their lives and ours forever!  
Jesus and his disciples went to the Upper Room for the Last Supper and then took Peter, James, and John to the Garden of Gethsemane. There in the olive grove they watched and prayed in a night vigil of preparation for the cross.  And then, He went to complete His work leaving some men who would change the world just from being with Him!
So, I highly value the opportunities to break away with believers of any age to do a debriefing of our lives and seek divine instruction for the days to come.  You just can’t get in weekly worship what you get in a few days of abandonment of our circumstances to retreat to listen to Jesus!
Scripture to Claim:
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31 

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